Friday, April 26, 2013

1860 Cotton Brocade Ensemble

Stars & Stripes Apple Pie with a Lily border
I had every good intention of attending the Costa Mesa Civil War event, but logistics conspired against me.  I had worked on a new gown and had even made an apple pie for the Ladies Tea. 

1860 Peg Sleeve
I knew I wanted to go with the big hoop skirt, I also knew I did not want to go with the pagoda sleeves styling, so that was going to push my gown in the late 1850's to early 1860's era.  I did my research, and found several V-necked bodices (usually for Summer Gowns) with a straight or “Peg” sleeve from around the 1855ish and later timeframe.  This was going to be my inspirational jumping off point.

For the gown, I used one of my old favorites, the Simplicity 3727 (see my previous post “Flirting with Civil War Fashions") pattern for the skirt and as a starting point for my bodice.  I did change the collar configuration as well as the sleeves. 

Have you ever looked at your high necked bodice and wondered, “What if I just fold the edges down and make a V-neck?”  Well, that was my idea as well.  How difficult would it be to make the change?  I used the same basic bodice pieces and just changed out the interior facing piece.  The facing needed to be much bigger if I was going to lay the collars edges back.  I played around with the facing and got it to work just perfectly.  Not even a difficult change to factor in - I would encourage anyone to consider something like this minor change for one of your upcoming gowns! 

Gathered Sleeve Cap
Next, was the sleeve configuration.  Straight sleeves were certainly not the norm for the late 1850 or 1860s, but they did exist.  I found several references to them as “Peg” sleeves.  Some sleeves had the gathering at the sleeve cap, some at the elbow, some had pleating, and some were just plain straight.  I decided to factor in the sleeves from Butterick B5832, which is suppose to be a modified “Romantic Era” pattern with modern techniques like a zipper (Gasp!  LOL)  I liked the sleeves.  Heck, I purchased the pattern just because of the sleeves.  The pattern called for a lot of piping, which I left out.  I must admit the sleeves were very labor intensive.  Start to finish was about five hours just for the two sleeves, but I love they way they turned out.

The skirt has approximately 5 ½ yds.  There are no pattern pieces, you just cut four really big pieces of fabric and start sewing them together.  It calls for cartridge pleating, but I went with a really tight basic gathering and it works for me.  The pattern also includes a “Bustle” but it really looks more like a “bumroll” – LOL.  It really helps give your gown the Bell Shape for the bodice peplum to lay correctly.  The skirt has a great little drop yoke in the back to accommodate the bustle. 
This is w/only the tulle petticoat -
picture another foot on each side when
all undergarment are in place!
I was really pushing the edge with my fabric choice due to the overall weight of the fabric.  A heavy cotton brocade with a cream background, white and taupe roses with sage green leaves.  I loved the pattern and the fact that it was cotton, but the gown is very heavy.  I needed a large hoop skirt, a full flounce tulle petticoat, (ballgown sized), a cotton petticoat, another tulle petticoat, plus the bumroll to get the proper look.  While the underpinnings may not be period correct, it was more important to me to get the proper exterior silhouette.  It really made me sympathize with those ladies that actually had to wear these gowns with all the necessary undergarments that society dictated was mandatory.  I have noticed when I wear these big hooped dresses I actually have to change the pace of my walking to accommodate the movement of my hoop skirts, as well as simply being more aware of my much larger personal space.

All button are in place, but for a quick shot
I only used a couple to fasten close.
Turned back lapels (Revers) and vintage
lace under collar.

Next, I had the perfect vintage straw hat to finish off the late 1850 to 1860's look I was going for.  The low sloped crown with the wide brim was trimmed with vintage flowers, feathers, and ribbon.   While I love bonnets on other ladies, on me - they just looks ridiculous.  So, when I was researching appropriate headwear for the era, this was a great “hat” that I knew I would enjoy wearing.  This lovely confection is a gorgeous golden sand colored straw that compliments the colors in the gown exactly.  I had been given a really sad and beat-up 1960’s bubble hat the seller was going to throw it away, so I asked if I could save it, and he gave it to me.  I re-purposed the off-white velvet and chiffon roses as well as the green silk velvet ribbon.  The nap on the green velvet was so plush it almost felt like fur!  A good rinse, dry, and a quick press with a cloth and the velvet ribbon was as good as new! 

Sleeve detail showing crochet trim
Lastly, I added a vintage lace collar, some vintage crochet trimming on the sleeves in place of the piping, a taupe grosgrain ribbon belt, and some vintage cream colored ribbon lace trim on the ruffle of the skirt.  Start to finish was seven days working on and off.  It was another great sewing adventure with a few added challenges just to keep things interesting!  Enjoy!   

1 comment:

  1. I bet this will look very pretty on you. Another sleeve option are the bishop sleeves, as seen on Simplicity 4451. I don't like pagoda sleeves either. They make me look like a refrigerator, and they catch on everything.